As we hopefully move past COVID 19, the keynote speaker for the 2023 WSO convention will bring a timely message to the Wisconsin birding community. Tammah Watts is the author of the much anticipated and widely praised book “Keep Looking Up – Your Guide to the Powerful Healing of Birdwatching.”
Watts, a member of the Audubon California Board of Directors since 2021, has served the community for over 35 years in managerial, clinical and consulting roles in the private, non-profit, community college and public sectors. For more than 25 years, she served as a program manager for a nonprofit child abuse prevention agency in San Diego County and was responsible for establishing and operating residential treatment facilities, school-based programs, mental health outpatient clinics and innovative family services.
She is a native San Diegan and, in addition to living primarily in Southern California, also lived for three years in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, in the mid-1980s to experience transborder live/work cultural immersion.
After suffering a neurological injury in a routine surgical procedure, she found herself unable to return to the work she loved. Yet her experience as a licensed marriage and family therapist, mother, wife, grandmother, daughter, sister and friend helped her to chronicle her own personal struggles to overcome physical and mental health challenges through the powerful healing of birdwatching.
Watts says It began with a flutter of yellow feathers flitting through the trees, casting beams of sunshine and promise that burst through her kitchen window. This was her sign to look up. As a licensed therapist, Watts knew that she needed to seek and accept hope, love and support to overcome her chronic pain and cultivate resilience. But she could not predict that the little yellow bird would put her on the path to healing by fostering a powerful connection with birds and the experience of birding.
In her book, Watts shares her emotional journey of finding comfort and inspiration from her feathered friends, while providing practical tips and tools to help you:
--- Explore the practice of birdwatching from the comfort of your own home and community
--- Increase your self-awareness, mindfulness, and concentration
--- Find acceptance and alignment with the spirit and beauty of birds
“Right outside your door flies just what you’ve been looking for to help ease symptoms of stress, pain, depression and anxiety. All you have to do is look up, take notice, and open your heart and mind,” she counsels.
Registration for the convention is now open. We hope to see you in May!
Here is a sampling of what is being said about her “birding journey at home and beyond.”
“Tammah Watts beautifully and powerfully explores the regenerative and uplifting power of birds, leading the reader on a journey from a chance glimpse of a warbler through a kitchen window to a practice that spans a lifetime. Tammah’s approach to birding—as a private activity that grounds one in place, a communal one that forges and nourishes connections, and an emotional one that supports health and healing—ensures that her book has something for everyone who is even idly curious about the birds around them.”
— Dr. Elizabeth Gray, CEO, National Audubon Society
“The resource I wish I had when I began my birding journey. It has the power to change the lives of so many, especially those of us managing chronic illness, disability, and mental health challenges. Watts gently holds our hands in this sincere invitation to experience the healing powers of birds.”
— Molly Adams, founder of the Feminist Bird Club and co-author of Birding for A Better World
“Not only do readers gain new birdwatching skills, but also insight into what it means to keep looking up, both at the world around them and at their own lives, in mindful, spacious and healing ways.”
— Ghada Osman, Ph.D., LMFT, C-IAYT, and author of Mental & Emotional Healing through Yoga: A Guiding Framework for Therapists and their Clients
“A timely read that will inspire readers to look outdoors in search of feathered companions, to ignite joy, and affirm that birds and nature can support our overall well-being.”
— Holly Merker, author of Ornitherapy: For Your Mind, Body, and Soul
“Tammah weaves personal stories, practical information, and wisdom prompts that activate connection with our self and our winged ones. In a disconnected world, in need of healing and repair, this book is much-needed medicine for all.”
— Asha Frost, Wiida’adoon Aanimkikaa (she who walks with the Thunderbirds), best-selling author of You are the Medicine, indigenous healer, mentor, and ceremonial speaker
“Tenderly linking bird behaviors and human habits, Tammah brings attention to life, in and outside our nests, inviting us toward deeper respect and connection for all that is part of Mother Nature.”
— Kelly McDaniel, LPC, therapist and author Ready to Heal and Mother Hunger